In part one, I provided general ideas of how to manage and balance stress in a busy lifestyle. This post will emphasize strategies to build in a healthy lifestyle via diet and movement/exercise, especially for parents with young kids, but it is applicable to anyone and everyone 😉 I will be predominantly utilizing my expertise in Holistic Nutritional Psychology as a basis for this post. I have also included resources in this post so you have somewhere to start!
Your Relationship With Food
Take a moment to reflect on what your relationship with food looks like. Do you eat on the run? Are you so busy you forget to eat? Do you eat or stop eating when you’re emotional (stress, anxious, sad, happy)? What is the quality of food you eat? And for each meal, what is the quantity? Do you eat more at the beginning, middle or end of your day? Do you even notice you’re eating when you are?
If you’re busy, chances are, you may be eating on the go OR forgetting to eat OR stress/emotional eating. Hey, sometimes we eat like that even if we’re not busy!
Now reflect on how your relationship with food impacts your energy levels – does it create more energy, stabilize your energy or diminish your energy?
Upon reflection, if you believe you would like to have a better relationship with food and energy, here are some quick and general tips to help you do so.
1) Balance your meals with protein, carbs and healthy fats. Ideally, aiming to eat protein (e.g., chicken, turkey, fish, tofu, egg, beef, wild game, greek yogurt, protein powder) at every main meal and snack will keep you satiated and energized. Pair it with a healthy carb (such as fruit, quinoa, brown rice, sweet yam, sweet potato, millet, couscous), and healthy fats (natural nut butter, avocado, egg yolk, coconut oil, olive oil). Of course, don’t forget veggies, which are great for cleansing and detoxifying! 😉 The less processed the food, the better. Our bodies will be able to be much more efficient at assimilating and digesting food that’s more natural. And YES, if you love chocolate, HAVE SOME! Moderation is key – as you can see my best friend and I are demonstrating below! 😉
2) Have a Prep Day. This will be your biggest ticket to having a more successful relationship with food in a busy lifestyle. Yes, it takes time, but it will save you time in the long-run. For example, every Sunday, cook a batch of protein, boil some eggs, cut/steam some veggies, cook/bake starch. To save on more time, pop things in a slow cooker. Portion them out and store in fridge/freezer. Or just stick each separate dish into containers and grab as you go so that you can mix and match.
Or you could try out a new recipe that includes protein/carbs and fats and portion them out, store in fridge/freezer.
I also like to buy canned wild tuna and salmon, rotisserie chicken (if I’m too tired or don’t have time to cook), have frozen veggies (you can always nuke them), raw nuts (almonds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews), hummus, greek yogurt, and protein powder- these are easy prep and go-to foods for energy. Keep a stash of nuts, fresh fruit (apples are easy) and dry protein powder in a shaker cup in your car/purse so that if you don’t have time to stop, you are prepared!
There are tons of protein bar recipes (for snacks) online that are easy to make (lots of no-bake ones!) and much easier on the wallet too compared to buying single serving protein bars at the store. 😉
Some of my favourite recipes are on these links here:
Jamie Eason’s Livefit Recipes – she has great, fast and easy recipes from meals to protein treats!
Damyhealth – Super delicious treats that are very easy to make, lots of vegan/vegetarian options
3) We train our body when it will be hungry. Ideally eating every 2-3 hours and be mindful of portion size (I always recommend to my clients to eat to the point of feeling energized, rather than full). Everyone has a different threshold so how much you eat will differ from how much another person will eat, even if you’re relatively the same size/body type.
4) Familarize yourself with go-to places if you absolutely have to stop somewhere for food. For example, I love the chocolate banana smoothie (which has protein powder in it) at Starbucks. Subway is also a great healthy option for lunch/dinner. Anoather possibility is to stop in a grocery store to grab a salad or wrap.
5) Make time to eat. In my practice, I see a lot of people do not value eating. What I mean is that I see people do not make time to enjoy and savour their meal- they eat standing up, while texting, while driving, or while working – and let’s not forget- eating FAST.
Scheduling in meal time is as important as scheduling in an appointment or meeting. This is about making time for YOU, giving yourself a time to rejuvenate by resting your mind and honouring your body by refuelling properly. Being mindful and conscious about what you’re eating as well as slowing down to eat will help you digest your food properly, thus creating more energy.
In summary to this section, when you eat balanced meals and snacks at consistent times, you decrease your chances of being lethargic (4’o clock slump anyone?), and your chances of eating huge meals towards the end of the day, and in turn, decrease your chances of gaining weight. What you do gain is energy to help you amazingly manage your busy lifestyle well.
Your Relationship with Movement/ Exercise
Ahhhhhh that word…EXERCISE! It can be either a loaded word for many of you or a pleasant word for others. Which is why I like to emphasize MOVEMENT instead because it has gentler connotations. From here on in, I will refer to movement as meaning all types of activites – from gentler activities (hatha yoga, walking, tai chi) to more “hardcore” activities (weights, plyo, HIIT, power lifting), dancing and sports. Everyone has their personal preference and level, and there isn’t an activity that is better than another. It’s what feels good to you that matters!
Our bodies not only need oxygen in order to survive (obviously), but we also need oxygen to increase our energy levels. The more oxygen we have in our bodies, the more “productive” we can be in managing our busy life!
Here’s some quick tips on how to nurture your relationship with movement (if you need to):
1) Make time for movement – this symbolizes that you are making time for you because you are important enough. Plus chances are, others will enjoy your presence because you will be happier (as oppose to stressed). When we move, we get those endorphins going, and life-force energy is created! Making time for movement doesn’t mean joining a gym. It’s about getting creative (and sometimes looking a bit crazy, but hey, if you’re having fun and being safe, who cares?!) 😉
*If you have young kids, strap them in the stroller and go for a walk/ run/ rollerblade, nature walk/hike. This is me this past weekend climbing the Wolf Willow Creek stairs (beautiful view of the river and Fort Edmonton Foot Bridge) with my four month old strapped on my back. Hubby and I love spending as much time as possible with our kids. This makes us so happy!
*If you like plyo exercises, during your run outside (pushing your kids in stroller if they are young), stop at park benches and do step-ups and jump squats, do jumping jacks every 3 minutes or burpees (I’m probably one of the few people that actually like burpees!). Using your body weight can do wonders!
*If you are able to get a sitter, take up a class or activity that would be fun and/or relaxing (hopefully both!) Here I am trying stand up paddle board for the first time with friends.
*Instead of going for dinner with friends, try having active friend dates, like going for a nature walk, bike ride, jog, etc. Two of my favourite things to do with friends is to go for walks in the river valley and hiking in the mountains.
*You can also try working out at home when your kids are napping or having quiet time (if you’re fortunate enough to have them let you of course!). I love following workout videos on youtube – you can find some awesome 20 minute sweat sessions! Some channels I subscribe to are: Zuzka Light, XHit, Jillian Michaels, MomsintoFitness, Sonia Doubell (my absolute fave yogi), and Kathryn Budig (my other fave yogi).
*Or work out first thing in the morning, before your kids are up or before you have to go to work. Yes, that means waking up very early, but your body and mind will thank you once you’re done your sweat session. Remember, it doesn’t have to be a long one- just one that effectively helps you feel energized!
*Break your workout into mini-workouts throughout the day. So for example, do 10-15 minutes of exercise in the morning before your kids get up, 10-15 minutes while they are napping, or if you’re at work, 10-15 minutes at lunch break or after work. Don’t forget that if you’re at home with your kiddos, you will be getting movement in when you go outside to play with them!
2) Join an outdoor bootcamp. Take advantage of summer and join a bootcamp, which usually runs on weekday evenings or possibly a weekend. If you don’t have a sitter, bring your babies/ kids along and use them as weights if they are too young to be on their own (that’s what my hubby and I do!) Proof is in the pictures 😉 Thanks to Southside Conditioning Club for taking these photos! If you are located in southwest Edmonton, check out Transcendent Fitness, they run awesome bootcamps and are kid friendly as well!
For winter, join a class together with your kids. I taught karate for many years, and it was wonderful to see the parents interact with their kids through a shared sport.
3) Have movement included during family time. Go for nature hikes/ walks or just walks around the block, bike ride, play ball, play games where kids can join in the fun and not know they are “exercising”. I think this a fun way to spend family time and bond! It also is a good way to create energy (and for your kids- release energy!) and relieve stress!
As a general rule, being in nature has a stress relieving/calming/energizing and grounding effect on us.
4) Create a strong support system. I must acknowledge that without my wonderful support system (my husband, my family and friends), I would have not been able to embrace my health in the way that I do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it is very important to take some healthy “me-time” for self-care away from your kids. If you are located in Edmonton, there are places that have child-care available (such as Anya’s Little Dreamland).
This was a fun post for me to write as I enjoyed sharing my personal pictures with you readers. I intentionally included personal pictures not only because I am a photo junkie, but because I also wanted to demonstrate that even though I live a busy lifestyle (with a newborn and toddler), it is still possible for anyone to make time for health! I try my best to walk my talk! 😉 My hope is to inspire you to embrace your health too, because you are worth it! 🙂